Ask E. Jean - Tormented? Driven Witless? Whipsawed by confusion?

Advice Vixens

Hey Vixens,

We are heading into November. How many of you have already completed your holiday shopping?

Do you think you'll be spending more or less on your loved ones this year thanks to our fluctuating economy?

What do you think is a reasonable amount to spend on a gift for a new boyfriend?

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  • give Linda advice
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    I take pride in being frugal, so they ain't getting jack this year. I usually do homemade bath and body products anyway, which is fairly inexpensive.

    reply to Raven
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    Completed?! Oh hell... I haven't even started yet!

    I will be spending much less... my nephews can live without another 500 dollar game system (aka - hole in my purse).

    My boyfriend and I spend around 100 dollars on one another during holidays. Holidays being Christmas, Birthdays, V-day...

    reply to Nikki
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    Raven wrote: I take pride in being frugal, so they ain't getting jack this year. I usually do homemade bath and body products anyway, which is fairly inexpensive.

    Raven, explain more about what you make...I'm looking for ideas.

    I am usually done before Halloween. This year I didn't start. I get gift cards, mostly, so it's pretty easy.

    reply to Y
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    I always enjoy making christmas goody bags for friends. It's cost efficient and it's fun! You can personalize them anyway you want - it's completely limitless. I would recommend doing the same. You can put his favorite candy and add little things that he loves in it. And since he is your boyfriend, you probably should add a little bit of an expensive touch to it, but don't go overboard ! I hope this helps! xo

    reply to Virginia
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    Hey Linda,

    I haven't even thought of holiday shopping until just now!

    I'm hoping with the economy going haywire, stores will have to lower their prices in order to sell!

    If thats the case, I might just be spurlging this year!

    For a new boyfriend, I wouldn't get anything expensive, I would go for something casual...maybe a dvd set of his favorite show? tickets to a game? something along those lines...

    reply to Irene
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    I am stalking ebay daily for fab finds for super cheap.

    Just convinced my semi-employed sister not to go the mag subscription route for Christmas even if a good cause (I don't read it anyway).

    I plan to send select people wine :) One friend and I exchange goody bags. Already have some food items for it (lavender lemonade).

    Hoping she sends me a 3 lb Cabot cheese. (Or I could order one myself.)

    reply to Claire
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    I'm totally planning on breaking up with my boyfriend just before the holidays and getting back together right after new years (and more importantly right before my birthday). I think this plan will be very beneficial to my wallet.

    reply to MJ
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    My holiday shopping is 85% done as of JUNE. I knew the economy would suck come holiday time so I started early. I went to ebay and shopped til I fell alseep at the keyboard. it aint what it used to be anyways. Be glad when it is over.

    reply to Deb
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    I don't plan on doing much shopping this year, and even if I did I would probably do it on when I travel home to the East Coast so I don't have to lug everything across the country. I plan on writing a personal, heartfelt letters and cards to my loved ones, and making homemade gifts such as knitted booties for winter snowstorms. Last year I gave my parents a wall clock with pictures of my sisters and I on it. The kit cost me $7 dollars and they loved it!

    reply to Minh
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    As more and more Americans are investing in shotguns to keep the bank people off their porches, I think you should keep things light. I haven't even begun shopping yet but that's not a bad thing. I wouldn't just write your loved ones off and hand out Romane Noodles for the holidays but I would take note of the thrift stores and flee markets in your area. The economy is no big disturbance for me, I never have money for the holidays so I get creative. Make a big pot of sauce buy a gross of ball jars online, very cheap. Make a homemade label on your computer and baskets from the dollar store, you're a hit. I invite my girlfriend over, we drink wine she makes a pot of soup, I make sauce and we share, filling all the jars and now people look forward to our gifts. Remember what Dr.Seuss says "Maybe Christmas doesn't come from a store...Maybe Chistmas...perhaps...means a little bit more!" And that goes for Chanuka and Kwanzaa too.

    reply to Casey
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    Dear Linda,

    I take pleasure in making my family and friends something that isfrommy heart. This is often free or very cheap. This year, I'll bemakingmy parents a hearty veggie meal and buying them groceries fromthefarmers market. I'll stack their kitchen with various nuts and teastolast them all winter.

    And really what your family wants is to spend time together. Having a nice big meal, finishing the fruits and nuts and having tea ontheweekends together essentially is priceless.

    But when I feel like I do not have enough time for such services, Iwillgive a loved one essentials that she would need to buy anyways.I'llgive my best friend some Dr.Bronner's liquid soap, organicpantyliners,and renew her membership to the co-op.

    These are all cheap ways to impress your loved ones with unique gifts.

    reply to Amy
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    Great questions, Linda! :)

    1. I would be hard-pressed to spend less on my loved ones than I normally do. Not that I am cheap, just broke most of the time. But I also prefer to give those closest to me a more personal and personalized holiday gift, like a hand-drawn portrait or original poem, song or story.

    2. How new is he? New enough that you're not sure he'd be worth the extra investment? I'd say test his romantic mettle with a hand-made, from-the heart gift. If he snubs it, he's a snob and you probably won't have to worry about what to plan for him on Valentine's Day.

    reply to TJ
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    I've gotten away from gifts for my nieces and nephews. Instead, we do something fun like the children's symphony, lunch and baking & decorating xmas cookies. It's a big hit and they don't need or even care to have more toys.

    I buy 12 identical xmas ornaments and give to my mom, sister, aunts and two favorite cousins. I wrap them up in pretty little boxes with real ribbon. I'll do that again. That's usually only $150.00. I'll take my parents to the theater. And re the bf, I'll get him something to do with coffee.

    reply to Sugah
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    Hi Linda,

    Oh, boy, you must be organized! I haven’t even begun to think about holiday shopping! As far as gifts for new boyfriends go, it is difficult because everyone’s pockets are of a different depth. I would suggest however, concentrating on the new aspect of the relationship rather than how much or how little you may have at your disposal.

    For a person new to your life, the gift should not be too intimate as you don’t’ really know each other. A good rule of thumb for any gift, is to get something the person might want, but probably wouldn’t buy for themselves. Ask his friends and family (if you know them) and see what they say. Make your present thoughtful but don’t’ go overboard even if you can swim.

    reply to Marjorie
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    I don't think we've finished our shopping before Christmas Eve, ever. And I'm always a wrapping fool at the 11th hour. We have started to collect a few things, i.e., my stepdaughter collects Fiestaware and anytime we've come upon it while rummaging/antiqueing, we pick it up. But alas, the big rush hasn't begun yet in our house.

    reply to ehvwon
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    This year is definitely on the cheap, more than likely baked goods for the majority of my family, except my mom, because every year she way overextends herself for her children and she deserves something special (Christmas is her favorite holiday).

    But that doesn't mean I'll be off the Christmas Eve hook, because inevitably I come home and find my father hasn't gotten presents for my siblings and I become designated present buyer. Score.

    As far as a boyfriend goes, depends on the guy and what he'll appreciate. But spending is a comfort zone YOU determine, not anyone else.


    reply to AC
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    nobody is getting SHIT this year!! haha

    We are gonna do a Secret Santa (our fam is about 50 people) with a $150 price tag. Great for me...I'll prob end up getting stuff for others anyway, but the past three years in total I have spent about 13 thousand dollars on presents for Christmas and I am totally freakin done with that. Chalk it up to being young and generous.

    reply to Bella
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    Hey guys, excellent advice. I love the home made gifts idea.When I lived on the east coast and had a tad more time available, I used knit everyone a new scarf for the winter. It was so much fun selecting the perfect colors to go with so-and-so's new winter coat, etc. I even had these labels made up that said "especially made for you by Linda!"

    Unfortunately, I don't have the luxury of the time any more, and living out here on the west coast it's too hot to even think of knitting a wool anything, but maybe some of you could consider it.

    I love the idea of making home made bath and body products that Raven suggested. But how do you make them? Help on that Raven! LOL

    And once again, MJ has me cracking up. Why? Cos in my day I actually thought of doing the same thing. LOL. No, just kidding. But I do know people who get boyfriends around the holidays just to get gifts and have a date for New Year's Eve!

    Thanks for the advice on what do spend/get for a new boyfriend. I have a confession to make. I am married but I asked for a friend of mine.

    Far as hubby and me, we are intending to go light this year. We made a major purchase -- a flatscreen tv -- a few weeks ago and agreed that would be our holiday gift to each other. For neighbors and friends, we host a big holiday party, with tons of home made Italian food, and holiday cheer.

    As far as shopping for family back east, I haven't begun yet! So, no, Margorie, I am not that organized. LOL. But at least I am starting to think about it.

    I love the checking out the thrift shop idea -- especially if it's a shop that benefits a good cause. You never know what treasures you can find there and the money you spend goes toward something worthwhile. I also love the Christmas Ornament idea, the secret Santa (a must for large families) and all your wonderful advice.

    Thanks everyone!

    reply to Linda
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    I haven't had one second to think about holiday shopping--and, you're right!, it's already November.... Normally I'm a little more prepared, a little more ahead-of-schedule, but one giant thing has been weighing on my mind the past four weeks and we'll call it "The Great Depression of 2008." It's hard to think about presents and spending precious dollars when the economy is in the tank, and you can hardly pay for things you NEED: housing, insurance, transportation, food. I think we've all said "good-bye" to Venti Carmel Macchiatos and hello to Folgers by now, am I right?

    So although I haven't done any shopping, I have thought of an alternative: home-made gifts. Everyone loves something that comes straight from the heart (and not out of your pocketbook). I plan on heading over to the nearest Michael's and buying enough arts and crafts materials to make something for everyone. One year, a client of mine made dreamcatchers for her friends and family--great, inspiring idea, don't you think?

    On the boyfriend front, every guy is different. I have enough trouble thinking of something to get my own boyfriend, but I can tell you to set a limit on how much you and him will spend on each other. This isn't the year to wage a love war, where the winner is the person who spent the most.

    Good luck and happy crafting,

    reply to Alina
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    The most responsible thing to do is spend less this year, no matter how much money we have. I'm still spending but I have a budget that I'll stick to -- in the long run how we spend our time is more important that how we spend our money anyway!

    reply to Amy
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    I think how much you spend on a new boyfriend depends on how new he is and how much money you have.

    Starting in reverse order, take a realistically hard look at your bank account and what you can afford. In these times of real economic gloom and doom, if you can't pay cash, he doesn't need it.

    I find men, and I'm married to one, incredibly difficult to shop for anyway. They like big ticket things like cars, band saws, and high tech gadgets. When you get them fancy shower gel, it might just sit there for years even if politely accepted. In the old days ties or socks were good but in a place like L.A. where I live no one wears either anymore.

    If your boyfriend is so new that you don't really know what he likes then maybe take him out somewhere or make him a nice homemade something or other. Whatever you do, keep it casual and light and don't overspend. It won' be good for his ego or your wallet.

    reply to Dianne
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    Holiday shopping? Yeah, not so much. I usually wait until the week of Christmas because I love the last-minute dizziness of navigating through crowded malls with crazed shoppers. No, really! It gets me in the holiday spirit. :)

    Hubby and I will definitely be spending less this year, mostly because I don't have a job. I will probably try to get creative and make some gifts (who doesn't love a handmade croqueted scarf?).

    As for the new b/f, I think it's okay to spend between $50-$100 dollars. However, it's probably best to just talk to him about it so that you can both agree on what would be a reasonable range. That way no one will feel stupid if they get something significantly more or less expensive than the other person.

    reply to Pamela
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    If you spend more that $75, you are crazy. Because with each present, you are going to be expected to top that. They won't say it to your face, but they will think it. Be creative, the best gifts are always homemade, well that is, if you have domestic talents.

    reply to Alena
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    I bow down to you -- such high expectations to think that anyone is FINISHED holiday shopping! I'm waiting until after the election to see if I even feel like celebrating the holidays this year! Of course, I'm a little too Martha Stewart (minus that horrid poncho and the rumored bitchiness to employees - oh yeah and jail-time served..) to NOT give out gifts. I'm definitely arts-and-crafts-ing it this year. I found a great recipe for homemade kahlua -- just buy some funky, old bottles and give 'em a good washing -- and you've got TONS of great bottles of joy to spread around. Who doesn't want alcohol on Christmas? It's what gets many of us through it! You can also find great, SIMPLE recipes for flavored vinegar also to be placed in ultra-funky bottles with lemons or oranges or your choice of decorative food inside the vinegar. Those are two ideas I'm rolling with this year.
    As far as the new man, I agree with Pamela -- between $50 and $100 is reasonable. Take it from me, if you run out of room under the tree for his gifts, there's bound to be a little awkwardness come Christmas Day. (It was a lesson I needed to learn long ago, I guess!)
    Ho, Ho, Ho and happy gift-giving!

    reply to Christine
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    Definitely spending less b/c we won't have as much money! And I never complete my holiday shopping by now. I always wait for the last minute just cause that is so me! As for the new man, I'd buy within reason--what you can realistically afford. Don't go overboard...just give him something clever that will surprise him.

    reply to Alisha
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    Christmas shopping. The phrase strikes dread in my heart because you take words that separately represent two of my favorite things and yet together: yikes. Crowds, no parking, rudeness—ugh. I like the idea of a “green” Christmas with less traditional gifts and more “gifts” (in quotes because not everyone loves the gift of money donated in their name to Heal the Bay or a tree planted in their name). They don’t like it? What, they hate the environment? They don’t like penguins? Yeah, I know—that’s why they’ll be extinct soon! As for the boyfriend, try the time-tested idea that every man loves: you naked + plus lingerie + whatever he wants = perfect.

    reply to Josefin
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    Dear Linda,
    As the holiday season comes nearer and the economy seems to be worsening, I've been thinking a lot about what I can do to help. This year instead of buying trinkets for loved ones, I am considering donating the funds I had budgeted for each to a charity in their name, collectively. It will be a way to get everyone to feel as though they are joined in a positive part of something together. Everyone can receive updates on how our chosen organization is doing and helping others, and it's a good way to remind ourselves that there are people out there whom we can try to help, even if only a little.
    As for your boyfriend question, what about an event you can share in together? If he is your boyfriend, you must have interests in common, what about tickets to an event you both care deeply about? If you are set on the idea of a solitary gesture of giving toward him, I would say go with an amount you know is reasonable. If he cares about you, he wouldn't want you to break the bank and creative havoc on your monthly (or even yearly) spending. There's also always the DIY spirit to keep in mind, if you're going to purchase him something, consider having it personalized, or even making the card yourself. We are never too old to play with paint. Good luck and don't forget to smile.

    reply to Nicole
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    Holiday shopping already!?!?!
    Do what I do, buy everyone you know a self-help book you honestly think they need. This way they'll never want a gift from you again. Now that is the best way to save money in the current economy. Ok, of course I am joking. If money is an issue bake some treats and make some beautiful holiday baskets. I may not be spending as much as usual on my loved ones but I can still feed them. As for the boyfriend, I say if he's been around longer than a year spend 10% of your monthly salary. If he's been around six months to a year, and has been giving it to ya good, give the guy 5%. Anything less, let him take you out to dinner and wear something naughty underneath your clothes. You may as well create a win-win situation.

    reply to Sonia
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    I've been counting down to christmas since mid-October. I love the holidays and tend to start my xmas shopping early...but not this year.

    Thanks to lack of work (due to not being able to get shifts) and therefore lack of money, my xmas efforts are being a little restricted...but I won't let that phase me! Hand-crafted gifts can be simple but effective and are very sentimental. Last year I made everyone giftbaskets relating to their personality or favourite things. This turned out to be one of the best presents I've ever given and was pretty cheap to do.

    I think with all the problems with the economy at the moment, a lot of people feel like they have to cut back but it's not as bad as people think. Cutting down your christmas list is always a start, I mean you never see Auntie Marge (2nd cousin, twice removed) so why are you getting her a present?

    As for the amount you should spend on a boyfriend at this time of year...I think that all depends on you. If you want to spend a lot, and can afford to do that, then go right ahead. If you can't afford to, accept that but then find something special/sentimental you can get, while maybe doing something nice like cooking a romantic meal with dessert in the bedroom.

    Happy future-christmas shopping

    reply to katrina
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    Linda--I always have felt gifts that reflect genuine thought and creativity trump any big-ticket item. And when someone says, "I'm not creative," that just means, "I'm lazy." So, put away your credit card this year and don your thinking cap instead. Make an iMovie and make someone laugh. Put together a special collection of photos on Flickr or Facebook. Or, heaven's forbid, march your actual corporal being over to someone's house and lend a helping hand. Now, more than ever, we need to reduce consumption and increase the love!


    reply to Lyn
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    I bake every year. I make 6 or 7 different cookies, candies and such and then I get containers at the 99 cent store or Container Store and dole them out. I hate to say it's the thought that counts, but it really is. I also send cards to everyone.

    This year, I'm thinking about resurrecting my holiday party, which is also a gift to my friends. It's nice to bring people together, make some good food and then create ornaments that they can keep or leave on the tree.

    If you're dealing with people for whom the thought doesn't count, they don't deserve a gift.

    And no presents for anyone who calls you a ho ho ho.

    reply to Adrianne
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    For me the holidays aren't so much about what I spend, but more on the thought behind the gifts I give. Typically I pick a few things up for people during the year and then the majority of my shopping takes place during the holiday season (right after Thanksgiving).

    I've always tried to not spend a lot on gifts or place a certain dollar amount per person. For family and close friends I usually try to get something that I know they would never get for themselves. One year I bought a friend a Christmas tree because he wanted one and couldn't afford it and then another year I bought a friend a horse (technically it was a week of free riding and the donation I made went to a horse rescue foundation).

    I think it is important that if you don't have the money to not stress about getting people lavish gifts. If you know how to knit make someone a scarf or if you enjoy baking cook someone a meal. Again I have to say for me it's about the thought and not the $ you spend.

    As for the boyfriend I myself have a new boyfriend and have been asking myself the same question=). If you don't want to spend a lot you could always give certificates (I used to do this for my parents when I was a kid). Chores that he hates that you don't mind doing. Also if he likes music take him to see a band he likes. What are activities he enjoys doing? Maybe planning a day with said activity in mind around the holiday?

    Whatever you do, don't stress and have fun with it.

    reply to Leslie
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    Completed? How about not started, not thought about??

    This year (as with all leap years), life is in a state of flux. I may just do cards for most people this year, and maybe one or two gifts for the most important people in my life.

    Or I'll bake. It's cheaper, and usually more appreciated.


    reply to Wendy
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    I, like most people, am going to have to tighten my belt when it comes to buying gifts for people this year. I am single, so buying gifts for those outside of my immediate family is probably not going to happen this year, unfortunately. I will definately send a card or two to people, and I really can't bake , so fruitcake is out. I would say if you really like this guy, you can get him a great gift for under 100 dollars. Just try and get him something he has mentioned previously, or something you think will make him smile.

    reply to Paul
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    Every year we create a series of gift baskets that includes many homemade items: homebrew, chocolate truffles, bath bombs, massage oil, spice mixtures, etc. We figure the value of all these homemade goodies is more than the amount we spend on the ingredients. And that they get bonus points because they are made with love and because they are all-original.

    This year, we may have to cut back to just a few items--probably the most popular, which are the beer and the chocolates (easy to understand why those are beloved!). Even if we had money falling off trees and into our wallets, which we do not, it still wouldn't feel right to spend a lot this year. What happens when you buy something big for someone who can't reciprocate? You make them feel karmically encumbered. Not good.

    If we can get all our loved ones to agree (except the enormously wealthy ones--let them keep the economy moving) to cut back a bit this upcoming holiday season and make more homemade stuff, then everybody feels good. Pumpkin cupcakes, anyone?

    reply to Tumerica
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    I haven't even started!! I'll probably spend the same I did last year which was hardly anything at all. It makes me sad not to be able to give my daughter and family everything they want but I must resist.
    The boyfriend gift-the hardest gift ever! It all depends on how stable the relationship is..don't blow a ton of money if you see the end in sight and never buy more than you can truly afford. If he can't appreciate a little gift then thats saying something right?

    reply to Adrienne
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    I have begun. I'm the type of person that always wants to get everyone the perfect present. So I spend a lot of time browsing and considering presents which usually results in a panic attack three days before Christmas. This year I started observing my family and friends closely in January, hoping that they'd lead me to the perfect gift. It's helped a lot. My mom pointed out a serving dish she loved at a baby shower we attended in June and I took note of it. Come December she'll have that lovely dish under her tree. Hopefully, her taste hasn't changed since June.

    With the depressing state of the economy (and frankly, the world) I likely won't spend as much as last year. In years past I have eaten a lot of peanut butter and jelly come January as I'm paying off those credit card bills. This year I feel it will be wiser to save a few pennies. Just in case.

    I think $50-$100 is a reasonable amount to spend on a new boyfriend. Unless he is one of those once-in-a-lifetime guys. They don't come often, so get him the perfect gift if you can :).

    reply to Kathleen
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    Call me a curmudgeon but many years ago I rejected the retail spending hemorrhage that has replaced the holiday spirit of days gone by.

    When my kids were small and we had little money I started baking really great cookies and mini loaves and such to give away to our friends, family and co workers. They have always been well received. I even have some people that really look forward to our gift each year. Besides it will end up on their but eventually and so it’s the gift that keeps on giving ;-)) <-- double chin.

    If you have money you can certainly go have a spending hemorrhage but don’t get people stuff they don’t need that they will give to someone else next year. Try to be personal about it. No one wants some collection of dumb gifts that they feel guilty about getting rid of.

    reply to Aleta
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    How good is this guy in bed? A dollar for one, but maybe 100 for anther..hahaha, and I fully intend on spending heaps, let's get this economy back, the only way to do that is go out and shop. So really, I am only doing it to help the country. Talk about a patriot!

    reply to Stephanie
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    Stephanie wrote: How good is this guy in bed? A dollar for one, but maybe 100 for anther..hahaha, and I fully intend on spending heaps, let's get this economy back, the only way to do that is go out and shop. So really, I am only doing it to help the country. Talk about a patriot!

    LOL, that's the spirit Stephanie!

    reply to Linda
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    Hey! A "reasonable" amount to spend on gifts is what you can afford and no more than that. NEVER go into debt to buy people's "love" -- one year my ex husband and I gave each other 10 actions: I would wash his car, he would do the dishes. Etc. We were so broke. But it was a great Christmas that lasted a long time because chore promises ended up going til March!

    reply to jeannie`
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    I don't have that big of a family, so I'll probably be spending the same amount that I do every year. I never spend more than I can afford though. Afterall, it's the thought that counts, right?

    I haven't started shopping at all yet!!! I usually start the day after Thanksgiving.

    A reasonable amount to spend on your new boyfriend is what you can AFFORD!!! If he's spending, say $500 on you, don't feel obligated to spend that much. If you have a budget of $50, spend that. If you have a budget of $100, spend that. He won't like (or love) you any less if you spend less money on him. If he does, maybe you should ask Santa for a new boyfriend.

    Nah.....I'm just kidding!!!

    But please, you should NEVER spend more than you can afford. If you stick to a budget, you'll have much more fun during the holidays.

    Then you'll have more money to spend for all of those after-Christmas sales :)

    reply to Jennifer
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    I like the question about how much to spend on the new boyfriend...that's such a good question that deserves an excellent answer. Maybe there should be a math formula to figure all this out. For instance, let's say you've been dating for a month, that's not long but you might be in the l-o-o-o-o-ve stage. It might increase month to month but then after a while (probably after living together) you might want it to decrease in order to keep a budget sound. Anyhow, here's my awesome advice that I always do with GF's. I open the statement with, " much should we spend on these first gifts?" This way I don't receive a GUCCI wallet and give a photo album (this, by the way, has happened to me.) You don't want the disparity.

    reply to Hyun
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    I haven't done squat yet. There still be pumpkins to carve and tricks to treat. (That came out sounding very wrong.)

    It is very clever to go early though. I have been keen on shopping online lo these past few years. No lines, no angry mobs, no mollified moms laying the smack down on me for taking the last Whatever-me- Elmo doll. Many online stores offer free shipping as a holiday incentive as well.

    I would broach the subject with your new snuggle bunnie. Ask him if there is anything he'd like. If he says, a LCD television, say, "No, I mean, from ME silly!" If he asks for a gift card to the dollar store, then you know what he's prob. planning to spend on your loveliness.

    reply to LadyMama
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    I totally forgot! Last Christmas I was really broke and so I created a scrapbook for my boyfriend of our life so far. I had pictures copied at CVS and spent probably less than $25 on the whole thing with stuff from Michael's Arts and Crafts.

    reply to Adrianne
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    I think now is the time to be a responsible spender given the economic turmoil :)

    Remember, it truly is the thought that counts when giving a gift. Don't put a dollar sign on this year's Christmas gifts, instead, spend some extra time planning the perfect gifts.

    If you do want to put a price tag on the gift you give you significant other, make sure it is one that you can afford. Realistically, however, price should not matter. If it does, maybe you should reconsider your relationship.

    When I first started dating my husband, I was in the middle of a divorce and didn't have a lot of money to spend. He bought me a ton of stuff for the holiday. I, obviously, could not afford a lot so I focused on things he needed. He had just bought his first house and was constantly talking about needing a calendar and a coffee maker. That is exactly what I got him and he couldn't have been happier!

    reply to Casey
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    Linda, I actually Xmas and gift shop all year long. That way I don't take that big a hit in Dec. I keep a gift cupboard. Whenever I see something that my gift recipient is sure to like "on sale", I snatch it up! We mostly just do the young kids in the families. For my son, now on his own...but with three roommates...we pay Dec. rent. That way he can get something he really wants.

    I think it will be a tight Xmas for a lot of people. My family is not rich but we are very fortunate. So for the last three years, instead of gifts, we have all donated money to feed the less fortunate over the holidays. I certainly do not need another pair of slippers or a fluffy sweater!

    Regarding what to give a new boyfriend, I agree with the advice that has already been given. If you go overboard, it could be embarrassing. Give something that says you know what he likes...whether a CD or candy or ...

    As an aside, the funniest Xmas gift I ever heard of was what a friend's mother-in-law gave all the adults in the family: it was a gift cert for a colonoscopy without anesthesia. That's a prime one for re-gifting!

    Cheer, A-Muse

    reply to Lesley
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    I am the biggest sale buyer of all time.
    Have I begun shopping for the holidays?
    I have never stopped.

    I patted myself on the back when I heard Suze Orman (author of You're Young , Fabulous and Broke) say its best to shop year round for gifts for others when they are on sale.
    Then you won't end up frantically looking for something perfect for them in 10 minutes at a grocery store.

    I actually have a gift cabinet of natural soaps, scented candles, pretty journals and even Ohm Tshirts for my dad.
    Some of these gifts I managed to get recently for only a dollar each at a rummage sale. (Of course I will pay full price for my best girlfriends and family on special, individualized gifts.)

    Dont over it do it though.
    I tend to collect cards to give to people but I get them before the baby is even conceived or someone needs "my deepest sympathy."

    I have been "recycling" gifts more frequently in the last year due to the possible destruction of the economy.
    You have to be very specific and thoughtful with this one so it doesn't seem obvious they were regifted.

    Finally handmade gifts and cards are some of the most special I have given or received and they encourage creativity and are pretty low cost.
    The engagement card I created for a friend that was of a Lord of the Rings theme had a giant painted gold ring with the inscription, "The ring that binds you."
    It even had red pom poms hanging off it.
    haha -that was as fun to make as it was for my friend to hang it in his office.


    In regards to buying for boyfriends...
    Keep it sweet and simple.
    A wallet so they will be encouraged to make more money is perfect
    or an elegant home cooked dinner with candle lit bath and massage is nice too.

    reply to Ria
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    "New" boyfriend? Are you nuts? You spend nothing yet!!! He might not be around for Christmas. (sad but true, HAPPY HOLIDAYS!!!)

    If he is still around, how much you spend really depends on what you each do for a living. The positive side of our struggling economy is that right now (and probably in a couple of months as well), you'll be able to get a lot for little at "Going Out Of Business" sales. Safe bets are something pertaining to his favorite hobby, a nice jacket... but I wouldn't spend more than $50-100. You're exercising both adequate faith and intelligent precaution in your investment.

    Most of them are happy with just sex anyway.

    reply to Kelli
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    As an American, I feel it’s my civic duty to help heal an ailing economy---so I fully intend to do my part by starting my holiday shopping early and often. Not only will I be satiating my need to indulge in one of my favorite pastimes guilt-free, but I will be sinking my dollars back into Uncle Sam’s shrinking pockets.

    Hey-if early predictions hold true, holiday bargains will be plentiful this season allowing thrifty shoppers to stretch their dollar even further.

    As far as finding the perfect gift for your boyfriend and how much to spend, I guess that all depends on your budget and your relationship-a few subtle hints can go a long way in finding out what he may be hoping for from Santa this year.

    reply to jillian
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    I think we all need to get real and stop thinking about Christmas in October!
    As far as giving, give from the heart and what you can afford...if they don't like it, scratch them off the list for next year....this includes the NEW boyfriend.

    reply to Janet
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    I have done my Christmas shopping on Christmas Eve for eternity, just so you know where I'm coming from.
    I don't think it's a big deal to go lighter with the gifts this year. I have a feeling that's going to happen in a lot of households.
    You shouldn't set a dollar amount for your boyfriend's gift. It's no indication of how much you like him that you go crazy with the credit card.
    On the free side, as a guy I've always been partial to the homemade coupon book that can be redeemed for certain acts, especially ones you don't always practice. It's basically a gift for both of you anyway.

    reply to Thomas
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    From the guy's perspective, spending time is always appreciated. It's not exchangeable, but it always has value.

    reply to Paul
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    You guys all have such good ideas. Love the gentlemen weighing in on the "what to get the new boyfriend" question. The coupon book is a great idea. Thanks guys.

    Ya know, the reason I started this tread to begin with was because my mother-in-law would be finished with all her holiday shopping in early December. In August, she'd start nosing around for ideas and by September, after all the Labor Day sales, she'd be done! Yipes.

    I did start a little ahead of the game when I saw the perfect gift for a friend of mine and purchased it right away. I am not as organized as some of you who have those "gift cabinets" set up all year, but that is a great idea.

    Note to self: Set aside a place to stash all gifts and whenever you see something that would be perfect for someone, buy it, and stash it away until the holidays! Love it.


    Here's another question. Along with checking out thrift stores for cool ideas, any of you have ideas on where to bargain shop and still find quality items?

    reply to Linda
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    Raven wrote: I take pride in being frugal, so they ain't getting jack this year. I usually do homemade bath and body products anyway, which is fairly inexpensive.

    Definitely less! How new is your b-friend? Less that 3 months? Then less than $100. More than 3 months? Not much more than $100. This applies to you rather you are a top surgeon or a clerk at Walmart:-)

    reply to Lisa C.
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    Hi Linda,

    I never finish my holiday shopping early so you are not a long. As the holidays draw near, you can go browsing and if you happen to see something then go ahead and but it. A little at a time can make shopping easier. That way you won't feel overwhelmed. Most people may be cutting on holiday shopping because of the economy but you can still by small sentimental things.

    As far as the new boyfriend, it depends on how long you have been dating and your budget. If he is cool, he will love whatever you buy him because of the thought. I can't imagine him, your friends or your family being disappointed this year if you cut back. We all have to for a while.

    reply to Judith
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    I once had a new boyfriend tell me he'd break up with me if I didn't spend at least $300 on him for the holidays. Needless to say, it didn't work out.

    Great questions! As for our faltering economy, many are saying this year will be one of the worst on record in retail. Though we're all a little gloomy about the financial situation and I'm still wondering when my local Washington Mutual is going to sport a "JP Morgan" logo, there is something about the holiday season which really lifts your spirits.

    It could be that the season represents a time for us all to be a little less selfish and a bit more generous. With that said, I haven't even begun my holiday shopping! I wish I could say I have!

    I think a perfect gift in this economy could be a gas gift card or even a gift certificate to the supermarket. Call me crazy, but I'd definitely use these items! They're not entirely traditional, but surely wouldn't go to waste. You wouldn't even need to worry about picking out the right size.

    As for a new boyfriend and gift giving, ask him his opinion. Let him know you'd really like to spend the same amount on presents and see what he thinks is a reasonable amount. You two might even consider buying a joint present, such as a weekend getaway or a day trip to a local landmark.

    It's all about creativity in gift giving and I say, the more original, the better.

    reply to Kelly
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    Linda... sentimental gifts kill two birds with one stone: you get to express your feelings and save money. So I say make a gift don't buy one - write a poem, give him a framed pic of your first date, tape his favorite game make popcorn and actually watch it with him. Be creative and both your wallet and your boyfriend will appreciate it!

    reply to LaRay
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    What about garage sales?

    Any of you had any luck find the "perfect" gift at one of those?

    reply to Linda
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    That depends on the intensity of your relationship and how much you make and are willing to spend. Extravagant gifts tend to put too much pressure on budding relationships.

    Look for tasteful and fun and something in a price range that is comfortable for you and not terrifying for him. I'd say a weekend in Provence or a new car would be too much.

    reply to JM
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    I am simplifying this year! With a family, friends, and neighbors, I am really going to concentrate on the reason for the season!

    I plan on making lots of baked goods and wrapping them creatively for neighbors.
    Family, we usually spend quite a bit, but have started shopping and will try and get my children what they ask for. As for extended family, we do family gifts so that helps some.

    My advice, spend cash, please don't charge! That $50 gift might end up costing $75 or more by the time it is paid for.

    It is all in presentation~ get creative... there are many sites online that can help... brown paper decorated bags... recycled and covered shoe boxes can easily hold baked goods wrapped in plastic wrap or cellophane. Use bows, ribbons, lace, even shoe laces for a more masculine feel. Have fun and recycle items you may have around the house! Good for the environment also!

    Holidays are not to get stressed out on... :)

    reply to Veronica
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    I am simplifying this year! With a family, friends, and neighbors, I am really going to concentrate on the reason for the season!

    I plan on making lots of baked goods and wrapping them creatively for neighbors.
    Family, we usually spend quite a bit, but have started shopping and will try and get my children what they ask for. As for extended family, we do family gifts so that helps some.

    My advice, spend cash, please don't charge! That $50 gift might end up costing $75 or more by the time it is paid for.

    It is all in presentation~ get creative... there are many sites online that can help... brown paper decorated bags... recycled and covered shoe boxes can easily hold baked goods wrapped in plastic wrap or cellophane. Use bows, ribbons, lace, even shoe laces for a more masculine feel. Have fun and recycle items you may have around the house! Good for the environment also!

    Holidays are not to get stressed out on... :)

    reply to Veronica
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    Oh wow, I am impressed with the fact that you are already thinking about your holiday shopping! This year has been a tough year for spending, for sure, especially with tighter budgets and job cuts left and right. I think that the most important part of the holidays, especially this year, is to make your loved ones feel as though you really care about them, and really enjoy spending time with them. Instead of wracking your brains for what to get each friend, why not find ways to spend quality time with the people who mean most to you buy joining them in an activity that they truly enjoy. If your best friend loves the roller derby, why not take her to a game, or if your younger brother likes the arcade, treat him to a day of virtual reality. This year, I have a feeling that homemade gifts will resurface as a popular choice, given their economy factor. Some great sources for that are, of course, Martha Stewart, but also stores such as Michael’s, A.C. Moore, and any local arts and crafts store will offer a plethora of advice.
    As for the new boyfriend, how new is he? And do you see him sticking around? Why not make him a home cooked meal, or if that’s not your thing, treat him to dinner or something nice. If he’s really in for a long haul, showing him that you want to spend time with him, or that you take part in his interests, might mean more than a wallet or a new skin for his iPhone. This time of the year boasts a nice amount of events and concerts, so check out what is going on in your area, or somewhere near.
    If you really want to buy him something, consider how much he factors into your life right now and how much you would like him to factor. Then add $20 that amount. That could be your limit

    reply to Yali
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    I have not begun and I'm not worried about it. Less money during the holidays is actually a blessing in disguise becuase you'll get together then not for the luxurious gifts but for the great luxury of having those you love around you. I'm not just saying this because my wallet is currently empty...but its definitely part of my consideration.
    All joking aside, do things for your family or boyfriend and show them your love, this will mean more to your/their heart and definitely save long trips to the refund aisle at the department stores at the end of the holidays. Win win for everyone.

    reply to Sumeet
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    Sadly I'm unemployed so I won't be doing any Christmas shopping for myself. Yes, myself. Christmas is the best time of year for my to spoil myself rotten. If my brothers want something for Christmas, they can go buy it themselves.

    ANYTHING Elvis related will make my mom an emotional wreck. Literally, she'll laugh, then she'll cry and then she'll laugh again.

    reply to Angie
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    I'm still working on my Halloween costume (finally decided on a French maid), let alone begun to even think about the holidays.

    With the economy shrinking as quickly as Madonna's bank account -- thanks to Guy Ritchie -- I think being sensible this season is key.

    I’m planning on purchasing Starbuck's gift cards in small denominations for most and in terms of the new boyfriend, well, rather than buy him something, I'll just "wrap myself up in a pretty bow," and not much else.

    I'm more than certain he'll appreciate this much more than another sweater.

    reply to debbie
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    debbie wrote: Linda: I'm still working on my Halloween costume (finally decided on a French maid), let alone begun to even think about the holidays. With the economy shrinking as quickly as Madonna's bank account -- thanks to Guy Ritchie -- I think being sensible this season is key. I’m planning on purchasing Starbuck's gift cards in small denominations for most and in terms of the new boyfriend, well, rather than buy him something, I'll just "wrap myself up in a pretty bow," and not much else. I'm more than certain he'll appreciate this much more than another sweater.

    I have a feeling you're right about that!

    reply to Linda
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    Can anyone really afford anything this year? My mother once gave me a cornucopia of nicely wrapped gifts one Christmas season and as I sipped my egg nogg by the tree and opened each gift, I found inside an "I owe you" note. "I owe you" this and "I owe you that." Boxes and boxes of "I owe you" notes.
    'Twas the season of "I owe you." Ahhh, the eighties...
    The holidays are a time to be greatful and enjoy the company of family, friends, and loved ones. There's no rule that says we HAVE to buy gifts.
    On the other hand, if you can afford it, go to town. Me, being a boyfriend, I like to get gifts well over the $100 mark. In fact, I say use all your budget on your boyfriend, and let everyone else fend for themselves.

    reply to Sea Gypsy
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    One year I had $20 to my name, was completely depressed and a bunch of stuffed animals were over taking my room. I had heard about this teenage AIDS home and decided to do something. I packed up the stuffed animals, made cookies and went to the dollar store and bought diaries. The joy on their faces was beyond amazing. There favorite gifts were the stuffed animals because they were pre loved and they would not have enough time. I actually, had been embarrassed because they were not new. That year for my friends and family I thought of all the things I could do and what they could use and I made coupons and homemade jellies and
    cookies. It was the best Christmas ever. They all used the coupons, loved the homemade treats and understood it all came from the heart. Since then every year I incorporate this into my giving. It doesn't take what most people spend to make Christmas an amazing holiday. That was never the intent. True kids want things but try thrift stores, making something special that will be with them forever. Maybe what is going on is for the better so we can get back to the simple things, such as caring. I wish you all a Christmas from the heart!

    reply to Suzanna
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    Suzanna said:

    "Maybe what is going on is for the better so we can get back to the simple things, such as caring. I wish you all a Christmas from the heart!"

    That is so beautiful. Thank you Suzanna. I do plan on visiting thrift shops, even garage sales. You never know what treasures you can find. Merry Christmas to you, too. From the heart.

    reply to Linda
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    So sad that when holidays come around, such as Christmas or Chanukah, our first thoughts are revolved around spending money. Really, it's family and friends, and the warm-hearted spirit of this season that should be first on our mind. Since you Linda, like everyone, are probably looking at your finances realistically (which is good!), I would say that the best route to go this time is the creative route.

    Making a card, baking cookies, making dinner and eating by candlelight -- any sweet boyfriend would appreciate that. I think you can do all of that for 50 bucks or less. And if you two are open about it, I would discuss your budgets first.

    My boyfriend (of over 2 years) and I do that. We like it to be an even trade, and sometimes being open and honest helps us to realize that gift giving is not always the best option if we cannot afford it.

    reply to Elana
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    Is it just me or is increasingly difficult to partake in another year of mass consumerism? I decrease the amount I spend every year. I will volunteer time, bake strange German cookies and give select people small gifts. But we're living in an age where I have to ask myself, "Is all this STUFF really necessary? Where are putting it all? Do we really need it?"

    When I do shop, its at second hand stores or from local craftspeople. I try to keep it simple.

    Hate to sound so PC but its how I feel.

    A new boyfriend? 50 bucks or under. Or treat him to a fun night - make dinner, get his favorite movie, etc.

    reply to Beth
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    I've got my shopping all done. Just went to and got something for everyone on my list! All price ranges too.

    The amount I spent this year was no different from last year or any other year.

    As for a gift for a new boyfriend, I'd keep it rather simple, while at the same time making it as personal as you can, given the fact that you don't know him real well.

    reply to Pamela
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    Hey Linda,

    When it comes to relationship spending, I'm a fan of the "thought that counts" philosophy.

    I know from experience that if you spend a lot on a person right away, it becomes expected. It's better to build up to pricier presents in a relationship, that way you never run into the "You got me X for my birthday but only spent W on our anniversary!" predicament.

    Additionally, no guy requires [or should require] a lot of spending. A meaningful gift would go much further. So, pay attention when you guys chat. He may let something slip [perhaps he's fond of old radio detective shows], and you can get him a cheap gift that really hits home.

    Also, [not to be a pessimist but...] in the event the relationship ends in the not too distant future, you won't feel like a moron for spending a mint on him.

    As for your question: I know I'll be spending a lot less on friends and family this year thanks to rising prices and lowered salaries. I'm sure you all can relate to that!

    reply to Dann
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    Probably the best thing about relationships (especially green relationships) is that shoddy handicrafts suddenly become endearing. You don’t have to have a Monet streak running through you to make a fantastic gift. With a little imagination even velvet art can be sweet.

    When I was a college girl stocking up on ramen noodles, I made my boyfriend a Valentine’s Day present. He was always losing his pencils, so I edited conversation hearts with some personal phrases, hot-glued them to a small flower pot and stuffed it with a handful of No. 2s. Humble? Yes. But nothing says “I care” like a personalized, sugary pencil-holder.

    reply to Emily
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    Ooh, how much to spend on a boyfriend for the holidays- the age old difficult question.
    I look at it like this:
    New boyfriend (and by new I mean like, no more than one month) A token gift is good. You don't want to risk spending too much money if he's not spending much money. Something cute like candy or something that may remind him of a joke or secret only you two share.
    Semi-new boyfriend: A nice shirt is the safe old stand by but since he's a new boyfriend and the fire is still presumably burning, why not wear something cute and sexy that will be forever burned into his brain?
    Boyfriend (official) I love to give funny or humorous books to the men in my life-- I once bought my car-loving ex a book called Crap Cars-- it features the Pinto and the like. He loved it. Or, if he's into it, a fun new video game makes a great gift. Sports tickets, if you can swing them. Worst case scenario? By him an anniversary edition of The Godfather. No guy can resist.

    reply to Liz
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    Hey Linda Girl-

    What about making a gift for your beau? 35 cracker jack gifts for the 35 year old sly dog. A scavenger hunt with hand written notes that lead ultimately to your bed. An experiential gift like sky diving together (on the high end) or playing frisbee or having a winter picnic (on the low end.)

    A little wine, a lotta fun, they say.

    On the holiday side, howabout a retail boycott-banning together to buy local, visit a consignment shop, go to the flea market or local mom and shop. Bring the economy back by reaching out to the mom and pop bizzes to say "hey, you are worth our dollars during the holidays" and WALMART is not.
    Pick your favorite goddess store and stop in to say NO TO GLOBAL SUPPLY CHAINS.

    You dig? Holiday Shoppping Challenge is now GAME ON!

    reply to Mookie
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    Tell everyone in the family that you want to celebrate an Orthodox Christmas this year ;-) :-).....

    Traditionally we celebrate X-mas on New Years and exchange presents then...(trees are WAYYY cheaper ha ha ha)

    Also...the calendar is different and the true Orthodox Christmas isn't until January 6, HELLO SALES!!!!

    reply to Ano
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    With a new boyfriend, it doesn't matter how much you spend. It matters what your gift will communicate. For instance: Nice pen=I don't know you very well yet, but perhaps you'll find this useful. Boxer shorts=I think you'd look cute in these, and, bonus, I have touched your underwear. Homemade gift certificates for back rubs=by the way, I'm the kind of girl who makes homemade gift certificates. See? No matter what your budget is, this is your chance to send a little message. What do you want to say?

    reply to Heather
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    I'm not shopping this year. I'm making gourmet cookies as presents and FedExing them all across the country. Please pray for me that I don't confuse the sugar with the salt again this year.

    As to how much is a reasonable amount to spend on your guy, well, he's a new boyfriend. Maybe getting him a small, thoughtful gift that says "hey, I like you" would be the best road.

    reply to Georgie
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    Hey Linda,
    A reasonable amount to spend is an amount that is within your fiscal reach. If you can afford something extravagant – great, but if you cannot, then try choosing a gift that requires a little more thought.

    Not to mention, do you want to invest your nest-egg into a relationship that is still in the beginning stages? A holiday gift should not be about the price tag, it should be about the meaning, and it should symbolize your feelings for that special person.

    Anyone worth your time will appreciate an inexpensive snow-globe with your photograph inside, as opposed to an expensive bottle of cologne, especially with today’s economy.

    Believe it or not, what they say is true – it really is the thought that counts!

    reply to Angel
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    It's the thought that counts. Set a limit according to your budget, then stick to it. RE: new bf -- any inkling what he's getting you? Match it. Do not spend to much until you know this is the real thing. If you break up in the New Year, you do not want to be in debt over someone you're never going to see again.

    reply to Lorraine
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    Excellent advice again, all. You have really come up with some amazing ideas.

    Mookie, I love the little gift for each year...

    Georgie, the home baked cookies is the best. So sorry you confused salt with sugar one year. Yipes! Bet that was cause for a bit of leivity with friends and family.

    Angel and Lorraine, yup, you're right. It IS the thought that counts. I am leaning toward making things, baking things, finding perfect trinkets at garage sales and thrift shops and turning them into treasures by adding some personal touches...

    Angel -- by the way, I love the idea of a snowglobe with the photo in it. Or, how about a photo of you and him!

    (Actually guys, the new BF question really isn't for me. I am married. LOL, but I do have a friend in that situation and she is just wracking her brains with what to get him. Naturally, I am passing on all your good advice.

    reply to Linda
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    Hi, Linda!

    Current economic conditions have the bright side of getting us to reflect even more than usual about what is really important to us...
    Is it stuff...or the people in our lives?
    What makes our holidays the best they can be? Stuff or more time with the people in our lives?
    What you are willing to sacrifice to buy gifts and how much you spend depends on your answers as to what matters most.
    Regarding the new boyfriend, if he really matters, give him something that tells him who you invitation to your family get together and a plate of candy you made yourself,
    a naughty or nice picture of yourself framed appropriately,
    something personal that shows thought and effort.

    reply to writingmaniac
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    Hey Linda!
    As you've mentioned were heading into November and to answer your question I haven't even began my holiday shopping yet, Due to the current downfall of the economy I will most likely be spending less, I think it's very omporatnt that we are frugal in times like these. I don't think it matters how much you spend on your boyfriend, as long as waht you get or make is something thoughtful or meaningful.

    reply to Jennifer
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    With the economy being the way it is I doubt anyone is going to be spending a lot this year unless they saved up from last year and tapped into those resources. I know I am going to give my friend a mug since we had a coffee joke for her that runs back to the first two years we've know each other. The one dollar bins at Target and any dollar store will be hot this year. That's the best place to find useful items for only a buck and you'll still keep change in your pocket.

    reply to Nafeesah
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    I definitely won't be spending a lot this year. I only buy for my mother, my cousin and her two little boys-and I haven't even given any thought as to what to buy- they're all so difficult. As for a reasonable amount for a new boyfriend? Been there done it and spent about $25-and he still has the gifts because they were all small and things he liked. I wouldn't go over the $25 range though, you'll kick yourself later and ask why in the hell you spent a lot of money on a complete idiot. :D

    reply to Bad Beth And Beyond
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    Give advice or add a comment: